By Erwin M. Mascariñas
BUTUAN City – An estimated 75,000 people flocked to the festival center here for two nights as this city celebrated its Balangay Festival over the weekend.
“Overall, the festival celebration was generally peaceful and an astounding success over the duration of four nights,” said Capt. Emerson Alipit, Butuan City Police Office spokesman.
Alipit said the BCPO and the Caraga police deployed more than 200 police officers during the two-day events.
On May 16, the local Roman Catholic church took part in the opening of the 33rd Balangay Festival with a fluvial procession covering a total of 20 kilometers on the waters of the Agusan River.
On the same day, the city government formally opened the festival dubbed as “Madyaw Butuan” that was highlighted by various performances and a fireworks display.
“Even if there were activities in the morning, the people still showed up in the evening as the celebration brought in band performers and DJs. During the closing ceremony Sunday, we monitored around 30,000 people at the festival center,” Alipit said.
May Diez, city hall spokesperson, said the crowd was drawn in by the nightly celebrations.
“The people just kept coming every day to join in the celebration, from the Mutya Hong Butuan 2019 coronation night on May 17 was followed by performances of Kamikazee and December Avenue as part of the Tugtugan sa Balangay. This was followed on May 18 with Six Cycle Minds and Banda ni Kleggy. Then the main event on May 19 which was the Lamdag illuminated float parade and Indak sa Balangay electro street dance theater competition,” said Diez.
During the competition, the crowd was further entertained by performances from three of Butuan City’s own talents who had been successful in the national scene.
“Part of the competition highlights were a performance from Voice season 2 grand champion Jason Dy, Lance Busa who won the Michael Bolton’s Bolt of Talent and Tawag ng Tanghalan record holder Elaine Busa who are all from Butuan City. This was then followed by performances by Bamboo, Ultra Combo and a fireworks display,” said Diez.